Wednesday, April 4, 2012

MORTe politrickin halted as City moves ahead on parks, insurance bidding

The Big Kahuna of the meeting is an impromptu revisiting of the 
$1,000,000 parking meter looting - the quarters!

The City Council meeting was anti-climatic in limited misspent energy with the business of Hoboken moving forward and a frustrated council minority clearly suffering to pick a fight on something, anything in a desperate bid to get traction and point a finger at anyone connected to the Administration.

This is a group without ideas or policy other than hiring more City employees.  Councilman Michael Russo's grandstanding resolution (no. 2) was deemed illegal, non-binding and ejected for good measure by Councilwoman Jen Giattino.

As expected work on parks and the Citizens Campaign insurance bidding process passed without dissent but the fun and games got interesting after Councilwoman Castellano's resolution calling for investigation on unpaid legal bills last year failed.

It led to a discussion about other investigations including one that had been claimed prematurely to be "cleared up," by Castellano before any investigation had even begun.  She finally provided an answer to how it had been cleared up, claiming she had been told that by the Roberts Administration.

No one was buying it based on the comments by observers online watching the meeting and not anyone other than perhaps Castellano herself who along with Michael Russo was more than a little uncomfortable with the discussion.

Nothing can tell that story better than the video, so let's go to the videotape:

There's a lot going on and it's not the grandstanding resolution about some legal bills legally incurred we're talking about.

This is the never discussed follow-up to the million dollar quarter cover-up!

 Councilwoman Castellano runs in circles attempting to hide from the main question at hand. Why did she say the matter was "cleared up," before it was even investigated?

She makes a dual argument here neither tangential to the matter. First she claims the FBI already had the investigation well in hand. Well that's of course untrue on its face as there was no investigation whatsoever at that time and when it was later investigated the NJ Attorney Generals' Office were behind it, not the FBI.

This was of course why the late Mo DeGennaro brought up the question again a couple of months after the initial inquiry asking, "About the million it missing or what?"

Castellano's second argument and it's weaker is she believed the Roberts Administration when they said the drastic drop in parking meter revenues was due to an error. She attempts to link it to honest mistakes on some billing in the Administration at present but that's just taking a cheap political shot in an attempt to change the subject.

Castellano is 100% correct on one point.  It was "we who uncovered it" she says referring to Michael Russo's original question on the drastic drop in the parking meter revenues.  What she doesn't explain on the true timing of the matter is why they then suddenly reversed and attempted to cover it up.  Councilwoman Beth Mason chimes in to point at her ally Russo as if raising the question forgives the cover up that followed.

It all fails as does the witch hunt of a resolution at hand. Castellan knew that would happen.  What she didn't anticipate was a revisiting of the hijacking of a million dollars in quarters.

Perhaps the NJ Attorney General should return for another round of questioning.

No investigation was made but Councilwoman Castellano claimed
"It's been cleared up."

Compare the all out brawl of a discussion above to what Russo and Castellano actually said in back to back to back Council meetings on the matter:

Talking Ed Note: Although the Old Guard will tell you the matter is closed, they may only convince part of Old Hoboken and it's not likely most will take it at face value.  MSV has a feeling the matter is not over for anyone other than the first person to hit the clink.

There's some questions raised on who the CFO was at the time of the questions being raised in late 2007 and again in early 2008.

Councilman Michael Russo ever loyal to the La Famiglia Russo points the finger in the opposite direction of the truth.
The CFO then and now is his uncle: George DeStefano.

To the thousands of MSV readers, we're going to make two strong recommendations.
First, watch the whole video clip for a primer on Hoboken's sorry past of corruption and second, remember the name of the current CFO - George Destefano.

Again, that's Hoboken CFO George Destefano.

Michael Russo fighting for the taxpayers? City Council @ 7:00?

Michael Russo fighting for the taxpayers?

Stop laughing because tonight you will be hearing Councilman Michael Russo in all his Russo clan grifting glory as he tells everyone with a straight face how a protest walkout is akin to breaking your oath of office.

What he won't say is how he broke his oath of office captured on FBI surveillance tape and if he or his clan had any shame they would count themselves fortunate not to be serving 10-20 in federal prison and leave town with their ill-gotten gains.

Are we to believe that the FBI video with informant Solomon Dwek was the only time Michael Russo ever told someone to pass the greenbacks his way or make a check out to "Russo for Hoboken?"

The apple don't fall far from the tree and the Russo family is into Hoboken for hundreds of thousands on the record and who knows how much under the table?  Between the old man Pa Russo who holds a bill for over $300K and the insurance fraud with benefits he and Ma Russo saw after he got out of the can, the Russo's are into Hoboken with interests somewhere in the neighborhood of half a million dollars.  

That's right we're talking HALF A MILLION DOLLARS!  That's 2,000,000 quarters to you who prefer counting by the old Hoboken parking meter system.

Talking Ed Note: These people have no shame.  They just ask for your cooperation, your acquiescence and your silence so they can continue to "work" the system of which they are "entitled."

One or two voices doesn't accomplish anything.  It's either a group speaking out followed by the Feds making a sweep or they just go on their merry way.

It's what they do and who they are.

Resolution no. 2 should begin early this evening and is on the agenda here. The full resolutions are available at the link here.

Citizens Campaign lauds Hoboken joining the list on Insurance Best Practices

From the office of the Citizens Campaign:

City of Hoboken poised to adopt "Best Price Insurance Contracting" Reform Ordinance

The Hoboken City Council will be voting for final adoption on an ordinance tonight which would require the city to seek competitive proposals for insurance coverage, including proposals from the State Health Benefits Plan and JIFs, and require the city hire brokers on a flat fee basis.

The proposed ordinance will guarantee that Hoboken gets the price on insurance premiums, including health, workers compensation, liability, etc, by requiring the city use a transparent and competitive process. It also requires the city to hire brokers exclusively on a flat fee basis, thereby eliminating any conflicts of interest that may arise between the broker and insurance carriers.

Several other cities and school districts have implemented a similar policy and saved over $10 million dollars, including the cities of Plainfield, Paterson, and both the city and school boards of Perth Amboy and Camden.

Specifically, the ordinance requires the city to seek a minimum of 3 bids for insurance, including bids from the State Health Insurance Plan. It also requires that all brokers be paid exclusively by the City, thereby ensuring that brokers perform their duties in the interest of the City, not the health insurance company.

The model ordinance was developed by The Citizens Campaign Law and Policy Task Force and was originally presented by the campaign's Hudson County chair John Branciforte.

Hoboken resident John Branciforte said, “I hope the council will embrace this proposal that has the potential to save millions of tax dollars that can go towards improving the quality of life and improving services.”

Recently the NJ State Comptroller issued a report  ( which estimated that municipalities across the state could have saved more than $100 million collectively had they entered the State Health Benefits Plan.

This ordinance is part of The Citizens Campaign Toolkit, a series of online educational classes and model ordinances designed to cut government waste and increase transparency.

The Citizens Campaign is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that empowers citizens to get results on issues they care about.

Talking Ed Note: MSV wishes to recognize the efforts of Hoboken resident John Branciforte and the Citizens Campaign for their efforts and their continuous support for "Best Practices" in government.

It's great to see Hoboken again join others in NJ in good government measures and we expect the ordinance to pass later tonight.

For more on the Citizens Campaign's efforts for NJ, see their website:

Wanna talk to da mayor?

The mayor holds open office hours for the public to visit and discuss ideas, concerns and issues.  It's on a first come, first serve basis, so get in line.

Please note no horses are permitted within City Hall.  Da Horsey learned that the hard way.

Mayor Zimmer’s Open Office Hours Tonight: 5-7pm

Mayor Dawn Zimmer will hold open office hours this evening, Wednesday, April 4, 2012 from 5pm to 7pm in her office on the second floor of City Hall, 94 Washington Street. No appointment is necessary.

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